The impact of COVID-19 was felt across industries. The pandemic accelerated technologies, halted businesses and left organizations scrambling to react. Within the fitness industry, the at-home fitness sector thrived while traditional gyms struggled to stay afloat. The Athletech News team took a moment to recap what we believe were the most notable Fitness Disruptors of 2020.
When we talk about disruption, commotion and the deep changes that took place across the fitness industry in 2020, for better or worse, nothing caused more of them than COVID-19. The coronavirus was firmly behind every big victory during the year, and it was also single-handedly responsible for all the tough losses, too.
The global pandemic annihilated restaurants and theaters and locked us in our homes and forced us to re-think much of our lives and how we conduct business. While we arranged Zoom backgrounds and multi-tasked around home-schooling and curbside pickups, the fitness industry experienced both massive growth (Peloton, Mirror) in some areas, and painful contraction (Planet Fitness, Town Sports International Holdings) in others.
While too many gyms and fitness studios were forced to close and COVID crushed one end of the industry, the at-home fitness sector thrived. With plenty of winners and losers across the fitness landscape in 2020, here are the year’s notable Fitness Disruptors.
To be sure, the at-home, socially connected subscription fitness bike and treadmill service started to unsettle the industry before the pandemic hit. But 2020 was a banner year for Peloton, which continues to disrupt and delight. In 2020, Peloton logged $2.4 billion in revenue and saw its stock price quintuple. Peloton users, who averaged more than five workouts per week (impressive!) for most of 2020, may not even enjoy those kinds of stellar results.
The video conferencing app wasn’t just for family reunions and business meetings in 2020. Zoom was also a preferred way for fitness trainers and instructors, nutritionists and sports psychologists to safely connect with clients.
Just like it’s two-wheeled cousin Peloton, Mirror is a reflective screen that hangs on the wall of your home. The “nearly invisible” home gym offers personalized workouts with top trainers who offer motivation and live feedback as you sweat, just like Peloton. A virtual fitness studio, users can tap into a library of workouts from kettlebell to yoga to boxing, all from the comfort of their homes. Mirror launched in 2018, but enjoyed huge growth as fitness enthusiasts searched for safe ways to work out. Betting on the continued popularity of the at-home segment, athleisure giant Lululemon Athletica, an original investor, purchased Mirror in June for $500 million.
Cut from the same smart fitness cloth as Mirror, Tempo is designed to blend into your home without making a clutter, while offering access to a grueling workout. The machine maps your body in 3D, corrects your form, and neatly stores all of its included free weights in the base when you’re done.
Since its inception, Apple has been disrupting tech for decades. Now it’s turning its attention to fitness. Introduced in the fall, the Apple fitness suite is built around the Apple Watch. A cross between the surging wearable market and at-home, subscription-based studio work, Apple Fitness+ is ultra-personalized (think vital signs, heart rate, calories burned) and offers access to world-class trainers. Far cheaper than a Peloton bike, Apple Fitness+ subscriptions cost $9.99 a month.
Apple is smart to build around its wearable Apple Watch. In 2020, the wearable segment enjoyed continued growth as we incorporate the technology into our daily lives. While use of hearables like earbuds have grown by 83 percent since 2019, according to Counterpoint Research, smartwatches and fitness trackers now make up almost half of the industry segment as consumers want to be more in-tune with their health.
Compared to the educational Masterclass web series, Ultrahuman is a unique smart fitness platform that combines the science of fitness, mindfulness and sleep into one system. Designed to work with mobile products like phones and tablets, Ultrahuman offers access to coaches, instructors and medical experts that push subscribers through workouts in the morning and usher them to sleep at night.
Introduced at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, Amazfit HomeStudio is the fitness wearable maker’s answer to Peloton and Mirror. The company first started with a line of snazzy smartwatches. It’s now expanding. The HomeStudio features a treadmill, an HD screen, 3D workout and form monitoring, and access to world-class trainers and classes.
Not all innovation in 2020 was limited to workouts. There’s new tech to help us recover, too. Smart Cuffs were introduced at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show. The constricting cuff promises to be a game-changer in sports medicine by altering blood flow to allow muscles to recover and grow.